By Dr. Wumi Akintide
So much has been said and written about the star of this article in the grapevine, in the social media, in the mainstream media, in political circles in Lagos and much of the Southwest. Most Igbos would rather have him turned into a villain while most Yorubas consider him a celebrity and a hero for some of the political battles he has won for himself and the Yorubas. The part 1 will address Tinubu’s ascendancy or rise to the leadership position in the Southwest while the part 2 will speak to what he has done to deserve the honor and recognition as a worthy successor to Awolowo despite few of his shortcomings as a human being. “Let anyone who has never sinned before throw the first stone”
I cannot help but wonder if the jolly good guy I met in the company of some of my friends at Mobil Oil Company Headquarters in Lagos in the 70s is the same Tinubu that has led the opposition APC to power in Nigeria, The friends I am talking about include Akinyelure from Idanre, Solomon Owoduni from Oke Agbe, Geologist Sawyer from Abeokuta, late Toyin Obe and late Olawumi Omotosho (Lawus) from Akure. Those individuals were the first generation of Nigerians with some potential to take over most of high visibility jobs at Mobil Oil Nigeria PLC as the expatriates began to leave Nigeria one by one.
Tinubu himself may not remember the chance meeting I am talking about because it occurred more than 35 years ago. Bola may not even recognize me in a crowd if he sees me today but I remember him well and I never thought he was on his way to become a reincarnation or successor to Obafemi Awolowo. I recall how long it took Awolowo to emerge as our most popular leader next to Oodua our progenitor. I remember how long it took Ahmadu Bello to emerge as the Hausa/Fulani leader after the great Uthman Dan Fodio and how long it took Ikemba Eze Igbo Odumegwu Ojukwu to emerge as the successor to Ogbuefi Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Leaders take time to emerge. Many had thought at one point that Lateef Kayode Jakande, “Baba Kekere” as Governor of Lagos was going to be the natural successor to Awo. The hope quickly faded away. Pa Adekunle Ajasin stepped in for a few years before his death. After Pa Ajasin came Abraham Adesanya who was a compromise choice to hold the fort a little while for Bola Ige. That hope again faded away in 1999 when Oluyemi Falae came from nowhere, in what I call a Palace coup, to snatch the SDP presidential nominee from Bola Ige who had assumed it was his to lose.
Obasanjo saw an opening and he grabbed it luring Bola Ige to his Cabinet to further create a wedge between Bola Ige and his Afenifere colleagues. Bola Ige ended up paying the ultimate price when he was assassinated by some hired assassins in his own house at Ibadan while his security detail took a hike. The feud in the rank and file of the Afenifere led to the break-up of the group and the emergence of the Afenifere Renewal Group led by individuals like Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and Lieutenant General Alani Akinrinade to mention a few.
The next time I heard of Bola Tinubu after my short meeting with him in Lagos was when he returned from exile as a NADECO chieftain and fugitive offender that the Nigerian Military had forced to flee from Nigeria because he was a leader in the campaign for a return to civil rule in Nigeria. Tinubu had played a very dominant role in that gang-up or crusade against the Military. The fact that he is a “Lagosian” with name recognition had given him an edge among his peers as a potential leader. His mother the Mogaji or the “Iyaloja” of Lagos was a woman of substance.
Tinubu had ended up becoming the leader in Lagos but still a small fry in the old Action Group otherwise called Afenifere but his star was rising as a “Lagosian” of substance. He soon contested and won election as a Senator representing Lagos in the Nigerian Senate and later on as Governor of Lagos for eight years during which he emerged as the undisputed leader and champion of Lagos and the Southwest.
He took full advantage of his position as Governor and a very successful one at that to consolidate his stranglehold on the Yoruba Southwest. Many of his senior colleagues in the AD and in the Afenifere group had become very jealous of his meteoric rise in Lagos and they wanted to cut him down to size. The man who received his pupillage from the rough and tumble politics of Chicago and Lagos had managed to survive the subterfuge. Tinubu accompanied by Chief Bisi Akande and some prominent individuals in the Afenifere group broke away to form the ACN (the Action Congress of Nigeria)
Obasanjo had managed to get under the skin of the Afenifere group by persuading all the 6 AD Governors in the Southwest to let their supporters vote for him in 2003 on the promise he would use his Federal might as President to make sure they all have their second term. They all believed him and worked for him to win the Southwest vote in 2003 to redeem his image as “a prophet without honor in his own home because he had lost to Olu Falae in his own back yard at Owu in 1999 because the Yorubas considered Obasanjo a traitor at that point in his amazing career, but he went on to win as President because of the votes from the North, the Southeast and the South/South. Once he won that election, Obasanjo clandestinely worked against all of the AD Governors, rigged the elections for the PDP by citing a band wagon effect as the reason for the sweeping victory of the PDP Governors in the Southwest. The only one to survive the Obasanjo treachery was “Omo Iya Aje” who had a plan B of his own to make it impossible for Obasanjo and the PDP to win in Lagos, the crown jewel of Yoruba territory in Nigeria that the Igbos want to share with the Yorubas by calling it a no man’s land.
Adebayo Adefarati in Ondo, Lam Adesina in Oyo, Aremo Segun Oshoba in Ogun, Niyi Adebayo in Ekiti and John Odigie Oyegun in Edo all lost their seats but Tinubu retained his own in Lagos and he used his position and leverage as Governor to re-strategize and to put Obasanjo and the PDP on notice they are not wanted in the Southwest. He took back the Southwest from the PDP in 2007 minus Ondo and Ekiti. Tinubu and his ACN would have taken back Ondo but for his betrayal by Olusegun Mimiko who took all the money he could get from Tinubu to reclaim his stolen mandate from Agagu and the PDP in a protracted litigation that kept Agagu in office for 46 out of the 48 months.
Obasanjo and the Yar Adua-led PDP Government had looked the other way while the Appeal Court had dragged its feet on giving its verdict. Once Mimiko got back his stolen mandate, he immediately began to distance himself from the Tinubu-led ACN and he began to make overtures to the faction of the Afenifere led by Chief Reuben Faseide Fashoranti of Akure and individuals like Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chief Oluyemi Falae.
He consolidated his alliance and collaboration with the Afenifere by wooing their leaders with money and treating them with the kind of respect and recognition that Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande had refused to give them. Mimiko appointed some of their children to his cabinet and he offered a few of them some lucrative contracts to earn their total support and loyalty.
Half way thru the struggle to reclaim his stolen mandate from Agagu, it became clear to Mimiko he had to return Ondo State to the PDP in order to achieve his ultimate plan and agenda to remain relevant in Nigerian politics after he leaves office as Governor. He got all the traditional rulers in Ondo State to go along with him and he made a special effort to earn the support of Afenifere juggernauts in the Southwest in his quest to dislodge Tinubu as the potential leader of the Yorubas. He then made overtures to President Jonathan who saw him not only as the strong man of Ondo politics but as the only man who could deliver the whole of the Southwest to Jonathan and the PDP in 2015. Mimiko assured President Jonathan he would deliver the Southwest if Jonathan would bank-roll the enterprise from the limitless resources of the Federal Government at Abuja. Mimiko used to be the toothless bull dog as the Chief Security Officer of his state before decamping from the Labor Party to the PDP. Now that he is one of them he could do anything he wanted with State Commissioner of Police and the State Security apparatus in his state just like Ayo Fayose was able to do in Ekiti.
Mimiko reportedly asked for 500 million Naira and Jonathan paid out the cash right away. He arranged a meeting between President Jonathan and Chief Fashoranti at Akure. To convince Jonathan he meant business, Mimiko quickly organized two Summits of the Yorubas at Ibadan and Lagos attended by all of the chieftains of the old Afenifere group. At the end of the Summit, they quickly issued the endorsement that Jonathan wanted so much and Jonathan was assured the Southwest, the Southeast and the South/South were safely in the PDP column. Jonathan needed only a few more states from the North to make his victory in 2015 a “fait accompli”
That was why Jonathan and his wife and the PDP were so sure there was no vacancy at Aso Rock until 2019. That was why the first lady advised PDP supporters to stone anyone who dared to talk about change in Nigeria. Doyin Okupe had hoped that the APC was going to implode or crash under his own weight. He was so sure that he urged Nigerians to call him bastard if his prediction did not pan out. Bode George promised he would go into exile if Jonathan loses the election. Ayo Fayose predicted Buhari would die in office just like Umaru Yar Adua and Fani Kayode and Asari Dokubo told Nigerians not to worry because there was no way Jonathan could lose.
While all those plans were going on Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and General Buhari backed by fire-eaters like Nasir El Rufai and a few power brokers from the North had developed their own antidote to the PDP plan. Tinubu the master strategist of the Southwest coordinated the plans in the Southwest. Once the merger occurred and the APC Mega Party was born, PDP was in serious trouble but it was in denial encouraged by some rabble rousers in the Southeast and South/South who had benefited the most from the Jonathan Gestapo and had completely blocked out their ears to any new ideas because of their greed.
The APC was lucky when APGA refused to be part of the APC merger because of their fear and disdain for the Yorubas who they view as their competitors and rivals for the political spoils of Nigeria. The APGA pulled out of the merger and it did not occur to them to plan moles in the rank and file of the APC to do what Oruebebe of the Niger Delta had wanted to do to cause mayhem and confusion at the collation center in Abuja when it became clear to him the PDP has lost. President Jonathan made some last ditch efforts to make sure that the result from Bornu, Rivers and Delta were substantially altered to favor the PDP but the plan could not work because Sahara Reporters of New York in particular had already published the returns that were previously certified by INEC and it was not possible to alter the returns that late in the game. APC has Professor Jega and his INEC team, SaharaReporters, Channel TV Nigeria and the social media to thank for making it impossible for the PDP and Jonathan to manipulate the figures that late in the game. President Jonathan did everything in the book to save his presidency but it was too little too late. The use of the PVCs and the scanners by INEC had played a big role to make it impossible for the PDP to rig the elections. SaharaReporters became one of the unsung heroes of the APC victory.
A million Oruebebes could not have stopped the Tsunami of support the APC had received from the North and from the Southwest to make their victory a “fait accompli” If any single individual could be cited as the king pin behind the APC victory, it was Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the Asiwaju of Lagos and the Jagaban of Borgu.
Bola Tinubu has one thing going for him that nobody can take away from him. I predicted days before the election that the pathway to victory for the APC lies in the Southwest and I was one hundred percent proved right.
I said so because I have been a freelance election and opinion poll analyst for the Democratic Party in the United States since 1987 and I could tell where the pendulum in the Nigerian election was swinging and why? I could also tell the factors responsible for the swing with more than 70 percent degree of confidence using the probability theory I have mastered in my Master’s and doctoral program in the United States.
I talk of the good and the bad part of Ahmed Tinubu in this article because good and evil are two sides of the same coin for the average human being. Professor Ozodiobi Osuji an expert in human Psychology and Behavior the Igbos love to hate, has written so much about the subject in many of his brilliant articles on the ChatAfrik web site you could all go and read for yourself. We all come to this world with our good and bad part. You are lucky if your good part trounces your bad part. You have a choice to either display or cultivate your good or bad part. You can clearly see that In the particular case of Ahmed Tinubu and a leader like Obafemi Awolowo and some of the greatest world leaders from Chairman Mao to Nelson Mandela and from Abe Lincoln to Winston Churchill to mention a few They all have their good part and their bad part like Ahmed Tinubu.
I have heard a lot of stories told and written about Tinubu’s insatiable lust for money and nepotism. Some have said he wanted to be President and had succeeded in making his wife a senator, his daughter the “Iyaloja of Lagos” and his son-in law a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly and what have you. I actually watched a video before this election profiling him and the terrible things he has done in his quest to become the richest man in Nigeria. He is believed by some Nigerians to be richer than Dangote and Michael Adenuga. Some have actually called him the Bill Gates of Nigeria. They talk about all of his assets in Nigeria and the new Mega City in Lekki Peninsula and why his collaboration with Buhari makes a mockery of Buhari’s commitment to fight corruption in Nigeria.
I have done my research on some of those allegations and speculations and there is some truth to them. I would release my finding in the part 2 to this article and show why I still consider Ahmed Tinubu as a worthy leader and champion of the Yorubas and why I still consider him as being the most qualified successor to step into the giant shoes of Obafemi Awolowo nonetheless.
Stay tuned for the Part 2.